By Danielle Russo, Widening Participation Projects Manager
Spring school season at City University London is now well underway – ironic considering the snowy weather we have been experiencing! So far this year we have organised week long, subject specific programmes in Psychology, Engineering, and Business: all targeted at Year 10 pupils from schools across London. By the end of July we will have delivered 10 programmes covering a range of subjects.
I love my role because I see the pupils who attend our spring and summer schools develop over the programme. From the first day when the room is silent, and the pupils feel out of place not knowing what to expect from being at a university, to the final day when everyone is taking photos and swapping facebook and twitter details or mobile numbers, it really is fantastic to be able to share this experience with the pupils. For most pupils it is their first experience of visiting a university and I love seeing their understanding of HE advance over the week.
Each event has its highlights and amusing moments. Whilst at Thorpe Park learning about the science behind how rides work we bumped into One Direction – this caused mass hysteria amongst the young ladies that were attending and among some of our student ambassadors as well! I’ve also enjoyed exploring City’s Engineering department and testing out the flight simulators as well as watching pupils design their own psychology experiment and test these on unsuspecting people around the university.
Asked to comment on the Psychology Spring School one pupil replied “I thought that this was one of the best experiences this year so far and I loved it! University is more accessible than I previously thought. I got to know more about what psychology is and what university is like. It also helped me with my decision to do psychology when I’m older.”
I can only hope that the pupils who attend the rest of our events this year are as engaged and gain as much from participating in the programme.
By Ben Butler, Acting Manager of the Student Development and Outreach team. Ben has been responsible for City University London’s Community Volunteering since 2009.
I love it when a group of people can see a need in the community, get together and work out what they can do to help meet it. I also love it when students get the opportunity to develop advanced management skills – like motivating a team (without payment as incentive), budget management, conflict resolution, liaising with stakeholders – that may not normally arise in a volunteer role. City’s Volunteer Management Programme brings together both of these things.
Nico set up a website to promote cross-cultural understanding among Islington residents
We encourage students to look at our local area positively, to identify what they might be able to offer and put forward their suggestions. We provide them with support and the opportunity to get some funding to help meet any start-up costs, and then we encourage, wait and see the results. When everything works well, everybody benefits and it’s one of the most satisfying parts of my job.
Last week we had the Volunteer Management Programme Panel Meeting, students present their project ideas to me and to our funders, the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. It is always enjoyable. We had four presentations, all of which aim to engage local young people in different ways. One of the projects aims to reduce re-offending rates, one to raise awareness of cultural diversity and being a global citizen, one to augment the widening participation work that the university currently undertakes and another project hopes to help people seek creative solutions to problems through imagination and dance. Each of the projects has merit and potential, winning the full support of our panel, but what shines through in each case is how much passion the students have to make things better.
If you are interested in reading more about previous student-led projects, check them out on our Wall of Fame!